Petty Offense (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
A minor crime, the maximum punishment for which is generally a fine or a short term in a prison or a house of correction.
In some states, a petty offense is a classification in addition to misdemeanor and felony. Under federal law, a petty offense is any misdemeanor, the penalty for which does not exceed imprisonment for a period of six months, a fine of not more than $5,000, or both. Since a petty offense is one that is punishable by no more than a six-month sentence, the accused is not constitutionally entitled to a jury trial, which would be in order if the accused were charged with a serious offense.
(The entire section is 110 words.)
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